Solons vow to pass FOI law | Malaya Business Insight

Solons vow to pass FOI law | Malaya Business Insight

By WENDELL VIGILIA
August 02, 2016

Source:
Vigilia, W. (2016, August 2). Solons vow to pass FOI law. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved August 2, 2016 from http://malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/solons-vow-pass-foi-law

THE leadership of the House of Representatives yesterday vowed to have the freedom of information bill passed in the 17th Congress, taking a cue from President Duterte’s issuance of an executive order mandating all offices under the executive branch to accommodate legitimate requests for public information.

“With President Duterte’s Executive Order implementing FOI in the Executive department, we saw no reason for us not to pass the much-delayed pro-transparency measure,” said Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, PDP-Laban secretary general.

The FOI seeks to institutionalize transparency in all transactions of all branches of government, subject to some exceptions.

Among those who have filed FOI bills at the House were Reps. Winston Castelo, Alfred Vargas and Kit Belmonte, who are all from Quezon City.

“I can guarantee and assure the public that the House of Representatives under my leadership will champion public interests and will be on the side of the people,” Alvarez said. “We need FOI that is applicable to all three branches of the government.”

The previous 16th Congress failed to pass an FOI bill primarily because of what was perceived as lack of interest on the part of the Executive department to enact such a law.

House majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas vowed that the House, under the new leadership, will work hard to pass a “refined” FOI measure.

“We are committed to pass a measure (FOI) that will be responsive and consistent to the good governance and transparency campaign of the government,” said Fariñas.

Duterte’s EO on FOI recognizes that “every Filipino shall have access to information, official records, public records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for public document.”

The order allows Filipinos to request for the information they need by submitting a written request to the government office concerned free of charge, but a “reasonable” fee can be charged to shoulder the actual costs of reproduction and copying of the information being requested.

Section 15 of the order said any employee or public officer who will fail to comply with the provisions of the EO may face administrative and disciplinary sanctions.

The EO tasked the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to prepare a list of exceptions within 30 days from the date of the effectivity of the EO.

Aside from agencies in the Executive branch, the order also covered state universities and colleges and government-owned or controlled corporations are also covered by the order.

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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